by Liz BorkowskiÂ
After posting about the global water and sanitation crisis, I learned via Gristmill that rap star and Def Jams president Jay-Z has aligned himself with this important cause. On a recent world tour, the star visited Angola and South Africa and witnessed firsthand what life is like for theÂ more thanÂ oneÂ billion people who lack access to clean drinking water.Â MTV will air a 30-minute documentary about Jay-Z's trip on Friday (a two-minute "Diary of Jay-Z in Africa" clip is available on MTV's site).
"In my business, we like to say we're from the hood,"Â Jay-Z told the AP after watching Angolan children playing near open sewers in a slum. "We're not in the hood. By no means. Not even close."
The documentary is part of Jay-Z's partnership with the UN and MTV to get young people involved in global water issues. He also said he'd donate the proceeds from an upcoming concert in New York to the UN's Water for Life initiative.
It's easy to be cynical about the celebrity-charity relationship, but I'm impressed that Jay-Z is tackling an issue that's not currently on the top of most people's lists, and taking it to the MTV demographic.
I work for a nonprofit agency in the Philippines, the Center for Community Work and People's Development in Manila. I am grateful for Jay-Z and other emerging celebrities who take the cudgels for access to safe water. It is sad that 2 out of 3 Filipinos have no access to water despite the island nature of my country. This gravely complicates our efforts to address income poverty, nutrition poverty, lack of sanitation and lack of early childhood development and the rising challenges of HIV/AIDS. Lately, my country is struck by a long drought, and the crisis is now affecting even the middle class in the cities. Thanks, Jay-Z! Wish you can sustain your advocacy!